Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Can I love two dogs?

I confess that lately I've been feeling a little guilty about loving my new puppy as much as I do.

For three years, Scout has been my companion, and in my own head, at least, a faithful and loyal companion. But there have been more than a few times when I've wanted to snuggle, or to take him for a happy car ride, or even a nice walk and been disappointed because he doesn't really like to be pet, is anxious in the car (even though he's good) and only likes to walk if we're going to the p-a-r-k to play b-a-l-l.

Compare that to Bandit the devil dog, who loves to be pet, rides in the car like he's the king of the world, and walks on a leash better than any dog should be expected.

Last summer, I wanted to take road trip with Scout, but in the end I just couldn't put him through that anxiety. Sure, he'll go anywhere with me, but that doesn't mean he'll like it. In the car, he pants, ducks every time a truck goes by, and completely freaks if I put the windows down.

David and I joked this week that Bandit might end up being my road trip dog.

And for that, I feel guilty.

I've never had two dogs at the same time before. As an adult, I've always had multiple pets - a cat, dog and hamster, sometimes parakeets, often a fish. Each pet had it's own job, and for the most part no one's job description overlapped the other.

But I'm confused by how I feel about two dogs. Is it OK to love them both the same? Am I being selfish if one dog satisfies a need the other can't? In the end, does the other share with me things only he can? And have I done harm to Scout by bringing Bandit into the picture?

The truth is that Scout is my play dog. He likes to run around the agility course, and play catch till the cows come home. He sits under my desk while I work and he sits next to me while I eat; he never begs or jumps on the table. He doesn't bite or snap and I can trust him not to get into the garbage. He knows when I'm sad and gives me as many kisses as I can stand. He's a good dog, a little anxious and nervous, but dependable and calm at home. I feel better when Scout is in the house with me, especially when I'm home alone.

Bandit, on the other hand, can't be trusted to stay off the counter - while I'm making dinner. He's in the garbage, on the stove, eating from your plate while your fork is in your mouth. When he wants your attention, he gets it by nipping at your heels or your hands. He also gets me up early in the morning and has kept me hopping the past month, mentally and physically.

So both dogs satisfy me in different ways, bringing me joy and a little bit of trouble. Both love me and keep me company. They protect me from the meter reader. They warm the bed (just not at the same time).

I've often wondered how God can love all of us equally, despite our differences. But I guess it's a lot like my dogs. We're all part of the body of Christ, and we all have different gifts and talents and quirks and needs and things to offer to each other and the world.

But I have to go. Scout is here to let me know that Bandit has stolen my sneakers again and Murphy is on the stove. Where would I be without Deputy Scout?

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